Two things worth mentioning happened at Josh and Paula’s wedding on Saturday. The first was Paula’s face as she rounded the corner and the second was the length of the wedding Homily. As to the first, it was beautiful: just for the hairbredth of a second, between seeking and finding his glance, she knew nothing but trust, and then she saw what she knew she would see. She met it logically, intelligently, but with such love that she forgot, I think, momentarily, anything but that. I really hope, I thought, I really really hope someday I feel that look on my face.
As to the second, while Busby talked it occurred to me to study the list of wedding attendants. Something about the way they passed had jarred my memory. No sooner had I started to scrutinize than from the page popped the name: Annalisa Engstrom. I began frantically jogging my roommate’s elbow. “Dude, dude!” I hissed “I totally know that person!” Colleen nodded politely. We were at a local wedding; we knew lots of people. I was not to be squelched, however. Through the short-sighted haze of cheap contacts I could make out the form of the very Annalisa I had confessed my first-ever crush to, played dress-up with, discussed literature with, tried to impress with my Latin skills, all far away, far removed from this crowd, in Dallas, Oregon, when I was blossoming awkwardly into homeschooled adolescence. Annalisa was cool — she had a leather jacket and wavy locks and was older and taller than I, but she was still nice. Her parents were nice too. Her mom had cows in her kitchen, generally of the ceramic variety. I had to stop and re-evaluate my surroundings. Was I actually in Pullman? Was I actually perched airily on a pew, dressed in silk, a retro jacket and a Roman scarf, or was I writhing in highwater jeans and a sweater far, far too large for my scrawny frame? No, here I was. I looked to the left and glanced at the balcony. No, here were my Moscow friends, completely unaware of my potential nerdiness.
On the steps after the wedding I said hello, holding out my hand. “Wait,” she said “Botkin?” “Yes,” I said, trying not to shriek with the delight of being known “How do you know Paula?”
“We were roommates in Seattle,” said Annalisa. “How do you know Paula?”
I had to stop: how did I know Paula? “I live here,” I said. I live here and I know everyone because I think they might like me now, and weirdly enough I am taller than you are even though you’re wearing heels.
“Wow,” Annalisa was saying “we still talk about you guys all the time. Your dad was so cool; man, as a little kid… He knew everything. And your mom drew all of these wonderful creations…”
I had forgotten, my saving grace as a clueless pinhead was that my family was eccentric enough, and talented enough, that I was also allowed to be eccentric, and given the benefit of the doubt. Not that I took it; I stayed in my room, read, and combed my waist-length hair when it was absolutely necessary…
“Weird,” I said. We chatted and I gave her my e-mail address, and then I sat around with my Moscow friends rather dazedly, until late in the evening.